Kandahar Knights Edge Out Paktia Panthers in a Thriller to Stay Alive
Riding on Skipper Asghar Afghan’s blistering knock (74 off 42) at the top, Kandahar Knights top Paktia’s score of 167 on the last delivery to stay alive in the match. Winning by 4 wickets, Kandahar kept their chances thriving for a semi-final berth and now will have to defeat Balkh Legends by a good margin to advance to the next stage.
The match started in some style with Mohammad Shahzad dancing down the track and smashing Mohammad Naveed down the ground for a six. It was ominous signs for the Kandahar Knights as Shahzad continued to attack the bowling to a quick-fire 22 before he hit one to short fine-leg off Naveed. Fazal Zazai was his opening partner and impressed briefly during his 19. Sayed Shirzad and Karim Janat then ensured that there was a bit of a collapse as Paktia Panthers were reduced to 48 for four in the seventh over. It was a precarious position and Calum MacLeod and Samiullah Shenwari had to rescue ship.
Needing 11 off the final over, Karim Janat and Sadiq hit one-four each and stole singles when it mattered to take the side over the line. With Asghar’s confident and intelligent innings at the top, Kandahar was riding safely until he departed. What followed was a nervous phase for Kandahar batsmen and they made it more difficult than it should have been. Wessels and Zadran stitched a good partnership soon after Asghar departed but their slow approach meant there was too much left to be done in the end.
For Paktia, Calum MacLeod and SamiullahShenwari resurrected their innings with an 89-run partnership after they were left struggling at 48 for 4 in the 7th over. Shenwari, in particular, was very aggressive and played a praiseworthy knock of 65 from 43 balls to take them to a respectable score, but which came a bit short in the end.
It got a little tight in the end with Najibullah managed to clear the boundary off Udana, at a time when it was most needed, before finding long-on in another attempt. It was down to the last over with 11 needed. Zia-ur-Rehman was tasked with bowling the important over and he struck timber first ball to get rid of Wessels.
The last over drama continued with the two Karims, Sadiq and Janat left to get the target. Janat first hit one for four over cover before he could manage a single. With five needed off two, Sadiq played an audacious scoop to pick another boundary to level the scores. Karim then tried to go over the top with the field in and two fielders nearly collided while attempting the catch. Paktia Panthers could well have tied the game. Meanwhile, Kandahar Knights live to fight another day. They need to beat Balkh Legends tomorrow to progress to the semi-final.
Brief scores: Paktia Panthers 167 for seven in 20 overs (Calum MacLeod 40, Samiullah Shenwari 63; Sayed Shirzad 3 for 36, Karim Janat 2 for 18) lost to Kandahar Knights 168 for six in 20 overs (Asghar Afghan 74, Najibullah Zadran 23, Riki Wessels 22; Zia-ur-Rehan 3 for 40) by four wickets.